The Sylvia Plath Effect

From the sick and twisted files…

There’s research ’bout writers, shall have you amazed.
People who write, they tend to be crazed.
Struggling with life, conflicted and torn.
From deep in their psyche, creativity’s born.

Specifically, something that shouldn’t surprise.
A dynamic most writers would likely surmise.
‘Tis based on the poet Sylvia Plath.
There’s a complex disorder, many poets does hath.

The Sylvia Plath Effect, what it’s been named.
Poets doth suffer, that’s what is claimed.
Depression and sadness and other conditions,
Drives all these folks to their writing ambitions.

The deep, inward thoughts they scroll on the pages.
Unquestionably not because of the wages.
Something compels them to write what they write.
To document all of their internal plight.

Now Sylvia Plath, couldn’t deal with her strife.
At the young age of thirty she ended her life.
Into her oven she placed down her head.
Turned on the gas and soon she was dead.

That set me to wonder, am I mad as a hatter?
I like to write verse, what does that matter?
They’re not really poems they’re just silly rhymes.
They make people chuckle most of the times.

Seuss wasn’t crazy, least not that I’ve heard.
His stories are poems, yet often preferred,
by children, worldwide, just starting to read.
One of the greatest, you’d surely concede.

So I think I’m okay, I’ve not been affected.
The Sylvia Plath Effect’s not been detected.
Some people may think I am slightly eclectic.
The good news, my oven runs on electric!

There is lots of fascinating information out there regarding the tendency of creative writers (and in general, artists, writers, musicians and other creative types) to suffer from all sorts of personality disorders and it begs the chicken and egg question… which comes first the creativity or the mental health issues?  Think how often someone posts about writing being therapeutic. What are your thoughts? Do you write because you’re crazy…. or does writing just drive you crazy? :-)

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “The Sylvia Plath Effect

  1. I think there are all kinds of writers out there. For some writing is cathartic, for others it’s a job. I suppose I have never looked at why I write. I suppose if I were asked, I would say because I think I’m fairly good at it and reasonably funny. I love to make other people laugh or to bring a new perspective to things we can all relate to.

    I am often sad and almost always anxious which leads to more sadness, anger and all kinds of negative traits. Yet often the handful of readers and fans that I have seem to enjoy my ranting and complaining pieces the most.

    Virginia Woolf killed herself also. I’d also be willing to bet that writing has KEPT some people from killing themselves. I have thought about suicide, but honestly I don’t think I could or would ever go through with it.

  2. I’ve often wondered if I’m crazy enough to actually be a great, or even good, writer. I’ve led a charmed life. My parents love me, I have a great husband and kids. I’ve never really wanted for anything. I’m generally a happy person…Damn, I even bore myself.

    Love that last line, by the way.

  3. I’m happy as a clam. But I’m definitely whacked. ;-) Perhaps a bit touched. I couldn’t live without writing. It’s my outlet. I think the 9th circle of Hell is a room full of paper with no writing instruments.

  4. wastelandexplorer

    Hey, I mad as a hatter and loving every minute of it. :D HaHaHa.
    I say enjoy life to it’s fullest.

  5. rickythewiz

    In my twenties, whilst at university, I suffered from what was thought to be manic depression. I was thought to be, by most people who knew me, to be a funny guy who often had dark moody patches. I wrote poetry and it appeared that I had that ‘crazy’ writers’ personality. I was troubled and deep, so people thought. I was treated for manic depression for years. I wrote novels and poetry, none of which got published. I became a teacher, got married, had children and as time went on the ‘depressions’ became less frequent. I stabilised as a personality as I got to middle age. That whole ‘troubled creative’ thing that people labelled me with stop being referred to. Now I’ve been sorting out my old writing recently. Some of it has flashes of real beauty, but it’s patchy in terms of being publishable and enjoyable to read. I see why it didn’t get published at the time and think that my mood swings made it hard to write coherent and stable narratives. I’m polishing up the old novels to be free e-books, but I’ve become a better writer since I stopped having mood swings. I’ve become a better writer since family life made me more content and happy. So for me that whole ‘troubled author genius’ thing doesn’t wash. I think some happy people and some sad people write. As for me I didn’t have manic depression. I had, it turns out, mild borderline personality disorder stemming from a lack of self esteem because my dad was one of those unaffectionate ‘stiff upper lip’ traditional English type guys and I didn’t get any real love from my mum. Meeting my soul mate, best friend and strongest advocate, my wife, and becoming a father, better more huggy, loving and caring dad than my own, raised my self esteem over time and stabilised me. My writing is better because I’m stable and see things more emotionally and so at 46 my best work is yet to come.
    A Dr Suess Style response to your blog…
    I don’t suppose,
    That as sadness grows,
    Water words in a flow,
    Make poem flowers grow,
    To greater degrees,
    Than they would if the bees,
    Of joy buzzed from trees.
    In a big wordy swarm,
    and with words that were warm,
    Made sweet poem honey,
    For love and not money.
    Poem flowers thrive,
    With happy bee hives,
    A little water of sadness,
    A few small ants of madness,
    and the hot rays of fun,
    Of the intellect’s sun.

  6. I went ’round the bend’ a long time ago, although I don’t quite remember where that curve was. Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got no plans to backtrack.

    If you’re crazy and you know it, clap your hands.

  7. Loved it, and this verse could apply to me as well.

    That set me to wonder, am I mad as a hatter?
    I like to write verse, what does that matter?
    They’re not really poems they’re just silly rhymes.
    They make people laugh and smile most of the times.

  8. Hehehehe, well I never really thought about how crazy I am in relation to my writing, but damn, you might just be onto something there…

  9. All interesting responses. I won’t go into a deep analysis of each of your reasons for writing, as I don’t really know why I do this on a regular basis! I can’t see stopping though. I guess all creative writing has some element of personal experience to it. Interesting stuff… but now back to writing posts that are more “light and airy” :-)

  10. Would you please get to work of that “Goats on Meth” blog? I do not think I am alone when I say, OUT LOUD -“We’re Waiting!” And I am holding my breath until you post something, so if I die, it won’t so much be a suicide, as a social protest. Which is commendable, I am sure most would agree.

    As for the nuts angle, I may be certifiable, but I refuse to pay for that, or any other, certificate. I wrote intense poetry and lyrics in my teens (had a moment in a alternative rock band) but now, not so much. (( shrug )) oh, well.

  11. There are probably sick and twisted people in every walk of life, it’s just that the sick and twisted writers (and other artists) express it and let us all get a glimpse. Besides, “normal” is way overrated.

  12. Originally I wrote in the hope of saving myself from going crazy – now writing may make me crazy. Finding time to write our book is a MAJOR issue in my life right now, which is driving me crazy!

  13. I have a 10 year old Australian Shepherd mix, a 5 year old basset hound/Siberian Husky mix and a 2 year old Great Dane lab mix, along with an (almost) 10 year old girl. Of course I’m crazy, but then again, it’s what keeps me sane.

    On a more serious note, I have been treated for clinical depression for years; it runs in my family. It is well controlled unless something throws all my body’s systems out of balance. I write the same whether I am depressed or not (although if I am depressed, it is a lot harder to make myself write), so I am not sure they are related. My two cents worth!

    Nancy
    http://www.workingmomadventures.com
    http://www.thefootballnovice.com

  14. I like the twist in the last line of your poem!

  15. We write to see if anyone is listening. Holey Moley. It’s like you opened a 5 gallon bucket of introspection. Unless, your name is Shakespeare, it’s all short-lived. We’re entertaining, supporting, questioning, and living. (And in between, we blog.) I enjoyed your thoughts.

  16. By the way, something for you over at my place: http://rasjacobson.com/2011/10/03/unintentional-galloping/ I hope you’ll consider participating.

  17. I really enjoy writing, but I can see how it can make you crazy from trying to think of “what” to write.

  18. I blog for a hobby. I could stop tomorrow and start doing jigsaw puzzles again … or read more … or just lay around.
    I do enjoy it though: … and have slightly become attached to other people all over the world expressing their thoughts.

    note: I probably wouldn’t read Sylvia Plath’s blog if she were around: I’m not that big into poetry … and being bummed out.

    double note: I think I’m a level headed person … whose head appears level in most photos.

  19. I think there’s a definite link between what you call ‘crazy’ and being a writer, and I’ve made mention of it myself on my blog. I think it has to do with the fact that people whose minds are so full of thoughts and emotions that are firing in all directions, need an outlet so their wires don’t get fried. This outlet is creativity, and it can manifest itself in many different forms: Writing, Sculpting, Painting, etc. I’ve always said that I don’t like to write. I ‘need’ to write. And I mean anywhere and on anything. I work on short stories, my memoirs, poetry on napkins in restaurants when I’m bored (you get the picture). Some things find their way onto my blog. Most don’t. My poetry never does. These are mine and mine alone, and I’ve found that there are many writers who share, but also hold back certain ‘pieces’ of themselves for various reasons. I won’t say all writers are mad. But I will say all ‘mad’ people have some kind of outlet that enables them to function on a somewhat normal level–even if it’s just the need for complete routine in their life they have control over–and that one of those outlets is writing. It’s almost as if because one part of your brain isn’t working right, it registers in your body, a defense mechanism kicks in, and another part of your brain works overtime compensating for the lack of the other. I don’t know if I explained that very well, but that’s how I see it. I remember holding a chubby crayon in my hand and not wanting to draw pictures, but practice drawing letters cause I wanted to read and write so badly. I was ‘born’ to write. Just like I believe I have depression because of some chemical imbalance in a bad gene. I don’t ever remember feeling really happy or normal, and I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t putting words together. For me, writing and being nuts go hand in hand. They feed off each other.

  20. I’m not very sure of myself though…

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